Traffic fumes could trigger heart attacks

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  • Pollution is already estimated to reduce life expectancy in the UK but now it could raise your risk of having a heart attack too

    Your walk to work could be more detrimental to your health than you think as traffic fumes are thought to increase the risk of a heart attack for up to six hours after exposure.

    The study published in the British Medical Journal claims exposure to pollutant particles and nitrogen dioxide expelled from cars could increase the risk of experiencing a heart attack by 1.3 per cent.

    Researchers, however, quantify the risk as small. Author of the study Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran says: ‘We know from many studies that there are more deaths when pollution levels are higher, but whether heart attacks make a major contribution to this is not clear.

    ‘Although we found a short period of increased risk of heart attacks in the few hours after air pollution peaks, the risk was small and had little net impact on the overall number of heart attacks,’ he says.

    Professor Jeremy Pearson, from the British Heart Foundation, which co-funded the study says: ‘We know that pollution can have a major affect on your heart health.

    ‘If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, try to avoid spending long periods outside in areas where there are likely to be high traffic pollution levels such as on or near busy roads.’


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